Author photo

By Jon Hammond
contributing writer 

Finding his fortune in Tehachapi

Mountain Tales: First-hand stories of life in Tehachapi


July 31, 2021

Jon Hammond

Vic Phillips.

When I was 17, in about 1905, I went to work for Nick Williams of Walker Basin, driving a horse and team hauling freight. The route usually went from Caliente up the Lion's Trail to the Walker Basin area, hauling goods for the farmers and miners in the area.

I also drove a public stage for Bennett and Wallace, from Caliente to the Piute Post Office at the base of Piute Mountain. Any time a man can drive a team on Piute Mountain, he can drive a harvester. The biggest team I handled was 32-head of horses on a single harvester, with twelve horses in the middle and ten on each side, with two just two lines from the leaders and then others just followed along.

I got a job breaking mules for W. N. Cuddeback. I wasn't hard to coax because I kinda liked the old man's daughter. She was just a little girl, a bit shy and I stayed on. We got married when Bertha Cuddeback was 17 and I was 20. People said we were just kids and it wouldn't last, but it lasted 58 years and we had three daughters together – Ruth, Barbara and Miriam. I came to Tehachapi with a horse, saddle, bedroll and a $40 gold piece.

I made money here at Tehachapi, and I met and married Bertha. To me it is the finest place in the state.

Vic Phillips

Vic Phillips was a rancher in the Tehachapi area for many years, and he was in attendance at the very first Oldtimer's Picnic in 1956.


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